Officially Karneval starts on 11 November at 11.11 but actually not much happens until the Thursday before lent starts i.e. today. So, since I am living in the Rhineland and they are big into their Fuenfte Jahreszeit (fifth season) I got to finish work at 12 today and will have a day off on Monday as well.
Today is Altweiber (old women's day) and at 11.11 celebrations begin. One of the other departments in work had a bit of a gathering which I went to - someone in my department wanted to know why I hadn't organised something but I haven't really been here long enough to know what the traditions are. I've promised them a small celebration for St Patricks day.
Anyway, today is the beginning of the five day party period leading up to Ash Wednesday. In Ireland we used to just have Pancake Tuesday (in order to use up all the 'luxuries' like butter and eggs it's traditional to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday before starting the fasting period of lent) but in this part of Germany they go all out and it's generally raucous and debauched behaviour for five days. And what the wild women are supposed to do today is grab a scissors and hack off mens' ties. I've known about this tradition for years but never seen it in action. To be honest, most of the guys in work didn't wear ties at all today and those that do know it's going to happen and wear really old ties that they don't mind losing. It did occur to me that it's a complete waste though but I have now decided that if I save up any ties I collect over the years I will be able to make a quilt or something out of them. I'm trying hard to move back into a Pollyanna frame of mind you see and be able to find the positive in everything.
It started to snow just as I left work so I came home fairly quickly, just stopping in quickly at the second-hand place to see if the manual sewing machine is still there (it is and in the meantime they got another one in, this time a singer but it has been sold already) and also managed to pick up a two part Readers Digest book of plant (50 cent for each book). Then just bought some cold meat and cheese and some nice broetchen to have for lunch. And so for the last two hours I've been just sitting around reading stuff on the internet and finishing a book I'd been re-reading. It hasn't continued snowing though so I'm going to head out now and have a quick wander around the Altstadt. Big crowds and parties are not my thing but since I'm here I'll go and have a look. Maybe by this time next year I'll feel more like celebrating and joining in.
Knowing that there's a good chance my street will be fairly noisy for the next few days though I am taking off for the weekend and going to visit a friend up in the north of Germany. Looking forward to the few days away.